Stargazing and the resulting questions begin the first time a child looks at a star. Engage your middle school science students on a webquest to learn about the stars and the place Earth holds in our solar system. Advanced students can learn about other stars as well.
Astronomy and space are subjects of study from the first time a child looks into the night sky to wish upon a star. Navigation by stars, spotting constellations and watching a shooting star are areas of study for students of all ages. This webquest is designed to help students at the middle school level understand the basics of the composition of stars and their life cycles.
Additional questions can be added concerning the constellations and their appearance during different times of the year and in different hemispheres. Provide students with additional paper and colored pencils if desired for the questions that require a diagram.
Understanding the Basics of Stars
Your students will conduct Internet research to answer these basic questions:
- What is astronomy?
- What is the name of our star?
- What kind of star is it?
- What gases are found in our star?
- How do these gasses interact to create light?
- What other kinds of radiation does our star create?
- How far from Earth is our star?
- How does this distance impact life on Earth?
- Draw a diagram of our star.
- What is the life cycle of our star?
- How big is our star?
Understanding Other Stars
Once students have a basic understanding our our star they can begin to explore other types of stars. Photographs from the Hubble Telescope can provide spectacular views for some of the types of stars. Students can create models of constellations or a specific type of star.
- What is the closest star to our solar system?
- Is there more than one kind of star? If so, list them and three characteristics of each type. Draw a diagram if desired.
- What is a constellation?
- Name three constellations.
- What is a group of stars called?
- What is the name of our galaxy?
Advanced students can begin to study how stars impact the universe around them and how they have been used here on Earth. Once these students understand the constellations and how to navigate using stars they can create their own "map" of the local night sky.
- What is astrology? How is it different from astronomy?
- How is a black hole created?
- What is a shooting star?
- How can you use the starts to navigate?
- What constellations appear in the northern hemisphere?
- What constellations appear in the southern hemisphere?
- Name the constellations that appear in both hemispheres.
- Students who complete this webquest will encounter photographs of space and stars taken by the Hubble Telescope. Ask students to create a presentation with pictures of different types of stars and galaxies. They can explain what is depicted in each picture and give some facts about that type of star.
- Investigate the various telescopes available around the world. Break students into groups and have them investigate the various telescopes available. Encourage them to plan a 'trip' to one of the telescopes and have them explain why that is the one they chose.
- Encourage students to use binoculars or a telescope to view the stars locally. Discuss how the ambient light from a large city impacts the ability to view stars.
- Younger students can build models of the sun.